Topic: School Law
In an effort to make schools safer, Illinois this year has enacted a bullying prevention statute that significantly revises prior law. The new law creates an expanded definition of bullying, which includes targeting victims with a different sexual orientation. In addition, the new law creates a task force to study means for reducing bullying in schools.
The new law prohibits bullying on the basis of “actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, physical or mental disability, military status, sexual orientation, gender-related identity or expression, unfavorable discharge from military service, association with a person or group with one or more of the aforementioned actual or perceived characteristics or any other distinguishing characteristics.” (105 ILCS 5/27-23.7(a).)
Besides stating that students may not be bullied on school grounds, the school bus or at school-sponsored events, the new law reaches into cyberspace by prohibiting bullying through the use of a school computer or network. The new law also expands coverage to private schools.
The new statute further defines bullying as “any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically that can be reasonably expected” to place the student in fear of their person or property, cause a substantial detrimental effect to their physical or mental health, or substantially interfere with their academic performance or ability to participate in school activities. (105 ILCS 5/27-23.7(b).)
The new law creates a School Bullying Prevention Task Force to examine the causes and consequences of bullying. The Task Force seeks to identify promising methods to reduce the problem and must outline training and technical assistance opportunities for schools to effectively address bullying and re-evaluate their current anti-bullying programs. The Task Force must submit its report to the Governor and General Assembly by March 1, 2011. (105 ILCS 5/27-23.9)
If you have been charged with bullying or have other related questions, please feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Last summer, Illinois passed a new anti-bullying statute which expands the definition of bullying to include harrassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. The new statute also reaches across cyberspace to prohibit bullying by electronic means or through using a school computer or school network.